Alternanthera is a large genus of 200 species of bushy annuals and perennials that are grown mainly for their attractive colorful leaves, which are opposite, often toothed, and variable in size. Flowers are insignificant. Alternanthera are native to tropical and subtropical open forests in Central and South America.
Noteworthy CharacteristicsColorful foliage. Good for bedding, groundcover, hanging baskets, edging, or formal knot gardens. If grown from seed, foliage color will vary.
CareIn the garden, plant out after the last frost in moist but well-drained soil. Full sun produces the best leaf color, but plants also grow well in partial shade. Prune to maintain small size. In the greenhouse, grow in full light and water freely during the growing season. Water sparingly and keep in a well ventilated spot in winter.
PropagationSow seed in spring or as soon as it ripens, at 55° to 64°F. Divide in spring. Take cuttings in late summer. Overwinter young plants under glass.
ProblemsSpider mites and Fusarium wilt can cause problems.